Monday, May 2, 2016

The Spectacle Of It

Top Sexy Tower
Vasily Klyukin
New York City
Hello Everyone:

It is Monday and that means new things to talk about.  Today, we start the week with the story on one architect's infinite supply of the ugliest design.  Kriston Capps recently wrote about Russian billionaire banker Vasily Klyukin, in his article "The Tackiest Architecture in the Entire World."  Mr. Capps describes Mr. Klyukin as "...Russian-born Tony Stark, a billionaire banker and real-estate mogul turned science fiction novelist turned self-styled starachitect." Mr. Klyukin is the designer of the Top Sexy Tower in New York City (left) and a number of other buildings that would make a person say, "What The ____," literally.  Granted, there is nothing wrong with inventive design.  After all, some of the most iconic buildings around the world had critics and the general public thinking if the architect was off his or her medications.  However, there is a big difference between innovative design and just plain tacky architecture.

Not everyone is on board with innovative design.  The President of China, Xi Jingping, issued a directive banning "weird architecture."  To western ears prohibiting Chinese architects from "pursuing new directions in design" sounds draconian.  Mr. Capps writes, "While hasty and awkward designs have plagued China's unrivaled building spree, President Xi may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by curbing design in hopes of bolstering building standards."  As true this statement may sound, some design is just so outrageous, so hostile that state directives against them seems almost necessary.  For example, Mr. Klyukin's plan to build a shapely leg in Lower Manhattan.

Asian Cobra Tower
Vasily Klyukin understands that not everyone will fall in love with his tower.  He writes.

Someone will be shocked by this idea, someone will find it beautiful and sexy.  Someone-vulgar, but everybody, without an exception, would to observe such a tower or visit it least once in a lifetime...I personally would to live in this tower.

That sexy leg in a stiletto shoe and fishnets emerges from a curtain wall of the central tower.  The Top Sexy Tower.  On his website Mr. Klyukin writes,

The higher it gets, the more breathtaking it is and this applicable to the skyscrapers as well as models' legs, as well as Wall Street quotes. (

Now, Mr. Klyukin is proposing building unusual looking towers around the world.  One example is the Asian Cobra Tower (above left) is not specific to any site, beyond any Eastern city.  (Ibid)  Some of his proposed towers are rendered in multiple sites: Dubai, London, and New York to name a few.  Kristen Capps observes, "It's not clear whether he thinks that a Venus Tower (below left) could be dropped in any those cities or whether the thinks each of them needs a Venus Tower.

Venus Tower
These designs are way beyond whatever your conception of good design looks like.  These flights of fancy are doodles enhanced by computer-aided design, which has made it possible for anyone, with a modicum of imagination, to design buildings.  Think something like a "...vast frigate-shaped spa" or "...the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, enlarged to the scale of a city..."  One argument you can make is these products of Mr. Klyukin's over active mind is "not in a million years."  Another is the sound of retching and gagging, accompanied by a flurry of poop, shock, and horrified emojis.

Kriston Capps observes, "One thing that Klyukin's designs reveal that will resonate in New York and London-and perhaps in President Xi's China-is the billionaire's contempt for locality."  These proposed designs ignore context and region because it is irrelevant. If Vasily Klyukin has a design philosophy it is globalism-"a High International Kitsch."

Lest you think Vasily Klyukin is some heartless Russian
In Love Tower
London, England
banker billionaire with a lot free time.  At a pitch meeting for one design-the In Love Towers, which involves one tower gently hugging another tower-Mr. Klyukin recited a poem:

We were in love, but not together
No chance to touch, it broke my heart.
But once the dream came true forever
Now we could lean and never part  (Ibid)

A lovely bit of poetry, just not lovely poetry dedicated London.'

To date, none of Vasily Klyukin's projects have been commissioned or built.  Perhaps this is because no one really wants to see a cobra-shaped building or a glass and steel version of the Venus de Milo decorating their urban skyline.  Alright, maybe an adolescent Kriston Capps would love to see a menacing snake looming his city.  Instead, Mr. Klyukin's architectural meanderings point to the more problematic issue of the public's conception of "what architecture means."  Kriston Capps writes, "His work is the opposite of design by someone like Annabelle Selldorf, a subtle and context-driven architect."  Vasily Klyukin's work, to put it bluntly, is tacky.

This all well and fine if you want proof that architecture has a sense of humor.  Nevertheless, on a serious note, Mr. Klyukin's conceptions do not exist in a vacuum.  He is pushing the envelop of spectacles resulting by "...major museum commissions and open-resin competitions, allegedly honest arbiters of material culture and the built environment."  Vasily Klyukin is simply ready to take the spectacle as far as possible.

White Sails Hospital and Spa

Virgin RB
London, England

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